As founder of Thread, this page is my happy place to share non-work related thoughts, ever since we swapped Sydney for the NSW South Coast nearly a year ago.
On weekday mornings, before work whirrs into gear, I'll touch base here on whatever non-work related stuff is happening. Maybe I'll add social sharing buttons over time, space for comments, and transfer this to a proper blog platform for easier sharing. But that's not the objective right now.
I'm a pathological card-carrying, 'heart-on-sleeve' kind of person – so keeping a blog like this is where I'm most at home. I don't buy into the belief that business isn't personal, and nor do the clients that Thread attracts. Hooray for that.
Happy morning to you, here's to a good day ahead.
Morning 1: The story so far
There is a rhythm to the way we work and live. Seasons come, and seasons go. While there may be years in between a tempo change; change inevitably comes.
It works both ways, this rhythm. Fast to slow. Manic to calm. Calm to stressed. Peaceful to busy. Bored to overwhelmed. And then back again.
The current phase
I'm in a fast to slow, manic to calm phase. Last year my family and I had a sea change and it was the best thing we have ever done.
It came about after years of silent and restless contemplation; peppered with disagreements, stand-offs and complete indecision. There was no epiphany, in fact the decision-making process travelled like treacle.
Making the move
When we finally decided to leave Sydney and move to the South Coast, doors opened very quickly, as if fate was saying, 'About freakin' time...'
A house was viewed, and a few days later we had signed the contract. One month later we were in. It was euphoric. The next morning, our kids went to their first day at the local school.
Being plugged into the school community down here has been a big fat blessing. Friendships were quickly formed, playdates kicked in, favours were exchanged, and our weekly Friday Night Meatballs for anyone and everyone in the neighbourhood is chaotic and fun in equal measure. (Or maybe just chaotic on some weeks.)
You and me
I'm not sure what the point of this blog is yet, and I'm happy to let this emerge as I go. But I do know that I've been questioning what success looks like over recent years, and I think there could be a commonality here between my thoughts and yours.
I used to think it was about being the fastest, biggest, most high achieving business entity possible. Urgh, now that exhausts me and completely disinterests me. Whether this is one of those afore-mentioned phases or a more permanent shift, I don't know (and don't care to know for now).
So what does success look like for me right now? It is so simple. To be with my family - and not just physically with them, but mentally and emotionally present as much as possible.
Likewise, to do the same for myself - to be tuned into how I am feeling, and looking after my mental and physical health. To be stimulated - but not stressed - by work, which is always creative and lateral in some way for me to enjoy it; with plenty of freedom and mutual respect built in.
This all means having space. Space to think, to get bored, to have cups of tea and read books, to take walks and to strike personal errands off that to-do list.
Success for me is also about having enough money to pay bills and feel secure, but not chasing the dollar constantly from a place of fear and scarcity. And continuing to enjoy the company (and long distance phone calls) of a handful of dear girlfriends who mean the world to me.
The difference it makes
I try to work a six hour day around our gentle family rhythm, and the pace is so different. No needing to meet people in the city for endless coffees, no rushing to after school care pick-up in the traffic – one minute before it closes, no needing to be chasing clients endlessly to 'sell' our services in meetings, and no more attending some god awful networking nights.
It's not about living the dream, as we all know that is a fallacy. It is about reclaiming (and rediscovering) what is truly important. Then reverse-engineering your lifestyle, business, and entrepreneurial dreams to fit this slowpreneur mindset.
It may take years, it did for me – and there is no way we could have done this when the children were younger and more demanding physically on our time. Or for that matter when this business was younger and far more demanding.
But it is a shift worth exploring when and if your soul whispers loudly at you to do so.
Morning 2: Up to see the sunrise
This morning I set my alarm for 5am. I knew I had a lot of work to get through today, and I wanted to squeeze in some precious hours before the kids woke up.
Who was I kidding?
At 5am the alarm went off and I promptly ignored it; rationalising in my early morning slumber that only a completely deranged person would set their alarm so early.
A truce was drawn with my sleepy subconscious, and the alarm was postponed till 6am.
That battle was lost too.
When I finally woke up at 7am, the most glorious sunrise was waiting outside. This photo here is like a B-Grade version of what was just magnificent. Bright red skies shadowed by stringy clouds, which have now given way to endless showers.
In the quiet
I just stopped and stared at it for a good five minutes on our verandah - a long time when the morning routine beckons. As I stood there, I could nearly taste the logic that beats away inside of me - the part of me that reminds me that while deadlines will continue (...seachange or no seachange....) it is how I perceive the workload that counts.
So much of my stress is in my head - imagined in a way; the side effect of being one of those conscientious 'school prefect-aspiring types'. It can be exhausting and mentally draining. As I looked at the sunrise this morning, my gloriously small place in this vast world was brought back into focus. And so too, was I.
As I always say to my kids, 'You're the boss of you.' And so, today is as much about clearing deadlines as it is about clearing my own self-driven thoughts to be kinder, gentler, and more in touch with the reality of what is, rather than the fear of what isn't.
Morning 3: Goodbye email (kind of)
The other day the lovely Di Mace suggested that I take email off my phone. It was a little like suggesting I don't breathe (especially given I nearly lost the will to live a few weeks back trying to get email loaded onto my new phone). But it has been such a good suggestion. Thanks Di 🙂
Way back when
I remember when Thread was version 1.0 (aka 'The Writers' Group'). In those early days of setting up the business, back in 2011 when my youngest was five months old, I was deliriously excited at the prospect of checking emails on my phone.
Incredulous whispers peppered thrilled conversations, 'So you mean I can leave the house, go to the park, and check my email on my phone, without using a blackberry?? Wow...'
We forget how revolutionary this concept was only a short while ago. Back then I had visions of pushing a swing in the park (with my child on it, not as a random solo activity), and effortlessly checking emails with the other hand.
We all know the reality is a multitasking mess, especially where child rearing is concerned; leading to some kind of passive addiction as you refresh your screen more times than you care to remember.
Then and now
So fast forward six years on, and I have taken email off my phone. I can feel my shoulders lower as I type that sentence. And I reckon I've got at least one to two hours per day back for doing this.
I now realise how much I checked my email. It was like an automatic response. Get in the car after dropping the kids off. Check email. Wake up on the weekend. Check email. Watch TV and an ad break comes on. Check email.
A persistent pattern
This persistent 'email checking' pattern was eroding my personal freedom (albeit in a first world crisis kind of way). The lines were blurred and weak. In this grey wishy washy state neither work nor my personal time was benefiting.
Now when it is 'work time', I sit in front of my laptop and open my email, giving this task my full attention. And when it is time to relax, my email is figuratively and literally out of bounds, and my laptop stays closed.
Accessing email on our phones was considered truly progressive not so long ago; yet now it is the act of switching off that feels even more exciting these days.